Chicago Dramatists is dedicated to the development of new plays, and at the core of this development are our readings. Our three primary reading series are our Saturday Series Readings, Playwrights Aloud, and our class showcases. A detailed event calendar will be added for 2020.

Master Class Reading Series

The Master Class Series features work from emerging playwrights that have shown a commitment to classes, dramaturgy, and refinement of a single full-length play. An interview and rigorous selection process result in a cohort model with actor cold readings as part of the development process. 

Playwrights sharpen not only their writing but their feedback skills toward fellow playwrights’ work in a uniquely supportive environment. 

These Master Class Series events are readings of plays-in-progress with a moderated “talk back” session for feedback and reactions from actors, audience, playwright, and directors. All plays read in this series are directed, rehearsed, and performed with minimal staging. 

Below you’ll find the schedule for the series, and you can see the synopsis of any show by clicking on its title. Register to see any of these readings for free by clicking the button below.

Apr 14 – Asylum by Patricia Krahke

When the wife of an immigration lawyer returns home to find her husband is harboring an Afghan refugee in their apartment, she is forced to confront what it means to be loved and safe.

Apr 28 – Course Society by Steve Nordmark

Perennial country club reject Henry Auslander commits to a screwball scheme that he hopes will finally get him accepted. He must help the senior club chairman run away from home to join a ridiculously exclusive secret golf society.

May 12 – Gertrude & Margaret by Judy Lea Steele

Two Queens slandered by Shakespearean pop culture meet for coffee. In a spiraling conversational, confrontational journey they face the grim price paid for wresting power in a world designed, dominated and controlled by patriarchy.

May 26 – Blow-Out by Kelsey Austin

Boundaries are murky, cruelty is the norm, and the mundane is all this family knows in rural southern New Jersey.

Jun 09 – Corazón Cicatrizado by William Bietsch

Three young workers at a piñata workshop in Mexico City navigate the complications of love and freedom under the watchful eye of the matronly owner. Each harbors a personal trauma connected to Mexico’s turbulent past and present. Their decisions on the eve of Independence Day change the trajectory of their lives forever as cycles of history come crashing down. (Presented in Spanish)

Jun 23 – Facing the Shadow by Shelia Payton

The year is 1859, two years before the outbreak of the Civil War. The Free Women of Color Literary Society is having its monthly meeting when the members are faced with a potentially life altering decision: whether to risk their families’ freedom to help a slave escape.

Jul 07 – An Unbuilt Life by Elizabeth DeSchryver

A widow investigates a mysterious painting and discovers her life was built on a lie. Revealing the truth may cost her everything—and may do more harm than good.

Sep 01 – Buddha’s Birthday by Amy Crider

With her mother’s stressful birthday celebration approaching, a new-age professor is urged by her husband to go on anti-anxiety medication. While resolving to meditate instead, enlightenment lands on her doorstep.

Saturday Series

The Saturday Series, our longest-running program, lies at the heart of Chicago Dramatist’ new play development mission. Most Saturday Series events are public readings of plays-in-progress, but other events include panel discussions and fireside chats with visiting artists. Click the button below to find out more. Note: Saturday Series will be taking a brief hiatus until 2020 to allow room for our remaining class showcases.

Class Showcase

A number of classes offered at Chicago Dramatists culminate in a showcase of student work at the end of the term. Click the button below to learn more about our class showcases.